Just Do It

After reading the article, “Our Right to Bake,” written by fellow dorm members Lucy Arnold and Kerry Lanzo in last week’s Phillipian, I felt that as a proctor of the dorm and Co-Head of Women’s Forum I ought to provide an opposing viewpoint from at least one girl in Day Hall. Snow duty for Day Hall consists of shoveling two meager pathways and a circumference around two fire hydrants. That’s it. Paul Revere requires girls to shovel the circumference of their dormitory as I understand, and they do it without hired help. So maybe our task seems too trivial for some people to take seriously, but “Non Sibi” was one of the reasons I chose to come to this school. I am not comfortable with the idea of having someone else do my work. Manual labor is ‘“unpleasant,” but we are not here to neatly navigate around the tasks we find difficult, or pick and choose duties according to our comfort level. Most members of the dorm had no role to play in this “democratic decision” to hire the boys of Newman House, and were instead informed of the deal via email and were unaware they had a choice. Even fewer girls were aware that an article was being published on behalf of Day Hall. Furthermore, the claim that this relationship has helped us to build a relationship with Newman House is false. I have never seen a member of Newman House outside of Day Hall. Instead the boys have appeared like elves in the night, magically removing the snow on our steps. The gender issues in the arrangement cannot be ignored. I was present when the idea was first proposed and there was only ever the mention of male dorms. In fact, it was clearly stated, with Ms Arnold herself present, that it was the idea of having boys shovel that made it so appealing. You may notice that our “neighbors in Newman House” aren’t even all that near. It was not once proposed that we ask Paul Revere to shovel our snow, and it never would be. I would argue that the idea of hiring other girls to shovel our snow would make many members of the dorm uncomfortable. Is it because seeing other girls do the task would make us more aware of our own laziness? Does hiring boys make it easier to evade that fact? After all, it is a known fact that boys love eating brownies and girls love baking, so it just fits, right? Yes, this is a “symbiotic relationship,” one that is tired, and reeks of traditional gender stereotypes as our house counselor has highlighted. I am not trying to argue that baking makes you less of a woman, but personally, I do not get the same sense of satisfaction from handing boys a platter of brownies as I do from shoveling my own snow. What disturbs me most is that many members of Day Hall could not see a single problem with the set-up, and yet most of my friends from outside of the dorm were appalled to even hear it. No one has the right to define what the role of women should be, but I believe the school is trying to build a sense of character in all students. We have our bathrooms cleaned, our food made, the grass mowed, the classrooms cleaned and all with the privilege of not once having to think of how it gets done. I should think that each member of this community would have no problem with doing the yes, “minute” and “inconsequential” tasks that the school actually does assign to us. We can shovel our own snow. We can do it without Newman House, and we can do it without articles to The Phillipian to vent these minor grievances. Micere Johnson is a two-year Seniror and the Co-Head of Women’s Forum from Trinidad and Tobago.